A Novel Stay/Add policy to Decrease DFW rates

David W. Parent
San José State University

Students were made to earn at least 90% on eight automatically graded (using MyOpenMath) online homework assignments to either remain enrolled (stay) or get permission to enroll (add) in a blended-instruction introduction to circuit analysis class. While this stay/add policy has caused some controversy, it was the only effective treatment to decrease the DFW rate (percentage of students who earn a D, F, unauthorized withdrawal or authorized withdrawal in one section of a course) in the regular semester offerings of the course. The DFW rate before this treatment was typically around 35% and as high as 53%. The DFW rate dropped to 17% for the same instructor after the gateway assignment policy was implemented. The DFW rate remained lower (19% and 26%) even when new (no prior teaching experience), part time faculty taught the class with the same materials, and stay/add policy. While other treatments that were tried such as making the class activities more realistic, flipped classroom, I-clickers, changing the pre-requisite from D- to C for the pre-requisite physics course, enforcing the differential equation co/pre-requisite, and switching the flow of the course to “impedance first”, did not decrease the DFW rate, they did lead to increased student learning.

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